Our Ligue 1 scribe returns from his sabbatical with some tantalising week 21 tips for you to follow.
Things are heating in Ligue 1 with only three points separating third-placed PSG and joint leaders Monaco and Nice. While at the other end of the table there are only four points separating bottom-placed Nancy and 13th-placed Lille.
So it’s all to play for at both ends of the table as we enter week 21 of the 2016/17 French Ligue 1 season.
Friday 20 January
Bastia 21/20 | Draw 9/4 | Nice 13/10
Bastia, who currently sit one place outside the relegation zone by virtue of goal difference, were reelled further into the relegation battle after they went down 1-0 to fellow relegation scrapers, Nancy, this past weekend. The 1-0 loss was their second defeat in a row and with big guns Nice coming to town this Friday, that run could well be extended to three defeats on the spin.
Nice also endured a underwhelming week 20, as they were held to a 0-0 draw with the scrappiest team in the league, Metz. The result saw the men from the French Riviera concede their outright lead at the top of the league as Monaco drew level on points with them. That was Nice’s second consecutive goalless draw and they will be desperate to get back on the goal track here. My money is on them doing exactly that on their way to a victory over Bastia. Get on a Nice win at 13/10.
Saturday 22 January
Nantes 15/2 | Draw 15/4 | PSG 7/20
Our second fixture of the weekend also pits a top echelon side up against a side who aren’t too far off the relegation dogfight. Nantes currently occupy 14th position on the log, some 20 points off this week’s opponents, who sit third three points off the joint league leaders, Nice and Monaco.
Nantes have managed three consecutive victories and have kept clean sheets in all of them. That run could well be ended this weekend as they are coming up against a PSG side who put five goals past Lorient a fortnight ago. PSG are rather short at 7/20, so I’d recommend having a dabble on the Over 2.5 Goals market at 8/10.
Metz 7/4 | Draw 22/10 | Montpellier 16/10
Metz come into this one off the back of a heartening 0-0 stalemate with PSG that would have done wonders for their confidence. The plucky little side from Lorraine have been dragged into the the thick of the relegation battle and currently sit in 19th position, although it must be remembered that they do have a game in hand over a few of their near rivals due to the postponement of one of their games late last year.
Montpellier are in a much healthier position on the standings despite being held to a stalemate by Dijon last week. The men from southern France have 23 points to their names and sit in 12 position but a defeat to Metz could see this weekend’s opponents draw level on points with them. I quite fancy a Metz win here. They will be full of confidence after last week’s results and I can see them grabbing the full three points against a sometimes ragged Montpellier outfit. Get on the Metz win at a tasty 7/4.
Dijon 39/20 | Draw 43/20 | Lille 15/10After a nightmarish start to the season, Lille have managed to escape the dreaded relegation zone – for now, that is. Les Dougues will be looking to draw further away from the drop zone when they travel to a Dijon side who also find themselves momentarily out of the drop zone.
The hosts come into this one off the back of a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Montpellier while the visitors come to town off the back of an identical result against St. Etienne. I’m not going to back a winner here as the sides just seem to be evenly matched. Instead, I recommend backing the Both Teams to Score Market - Yes - at a solid 17/20.
Caen 13/10 | Draw 22/10 | Nancy 22/10
Caen welcome Nancy to the Stade Malherbe this Saturday. Both teams had successful outings last week with Caen beating Lyon 3-2 and Nancy beating Bastia 1-0.
Nancy have had the upper hand when these two sides have met in the recent past, winning three of the last five games contested between the duo. They are also undefeated in 13 with Caen’s last victory coming way back in 2004. I’m going with the trend here and backing Nancy on the Double Chance at 6/10.
Bordeaux 1/1 | Draw 23/10| Toulouse 3/1
Saturday’s penultimate fixture sees ninth and tenth placed sides go head-to-head at the Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux. The hosts come into this one off the back of a 1-1 draw with Angers while Toulouse were defeated by Nantes.
This should be a rather interesting spectacle with both teams averaging over a goal per game and conceding over a goal per game. Once again I’m going to negate the match result market and instead tip the Both Teams To Score - Yes - market at even money.
Guingamp 27/20 | Draw 43/20 | Rennes 43/20
Saturday’s final fixture sees high-flying Guingamp take on a Rennes side who have only managed to claim a solitary point from their last three fixtures. The hosts, on the other hand, have claimed four points form their last three games with the majority of the tally coming courtesy of a shock victory over PSG in week 18.
My money is on Guingamp picking up a win here. They may not be in red-hot form but they certainly look a lot better than Rennes, who seem to be in freefall. Get on a home win at a kind 27/20.
Sunday 22 January
Monaco 4/10 | Draw 38/10 | Lorient 6/1
The first of Sunday’s three fixtures see newly installed league-leaders, Monaco, take on cellar dwellers Lorient in what can only be described as a David versus Goliath encounter. The hosts have managed to score six goals in their last two games and come into this one off the back of putting four goals past Marseille. The visitors also managed to find the back of the net on multiple occasions last Saturday, upsetting Guingamp 3-1.
They may be coming into this one off the back of a morale-boosting victory over Guingamp but I can’t see Lorient getting anything out of Sunday’s fixture. Get on a straight Monaco win at 4/10.
St Ettiene 19/20 | Draw 9/4 | Angers 3/1
St. Etienne will go into their game against Angers as heavy favourites despite only managing to claim two points from their last three games. Angers have not been able to win a game since early last November and look like they may well drop into the second tier of French football.
Both of these sides have struggled for goals this term and average under a goal per game, which makes the Totals - Under 2.5 Goals market a rather alluring prospect.
Lyon 8/10 | Draw 26/10 | Marseille 33/10
We close the gameweek out with a tie between Lyon and Marseille. Both teams come into this one off the back of high-scoring defeats with Lyon going down 3-2 to Caen and Marseille shipping four goals in their 4-1 loss to Monaco.
This is definitely a clash of contrasting styles with Lyon uninhibited by defensive pressures – they’re one of those teams that carry an attitude of ‘we don’t care if you score because we’ll score more – and Marseille taking a defend at all costs attitude to their set-up. I think Marseille’s inability to attack with any real conviction will cost them this weekend. Get on a straight Lyon win at 8/10.
Treble @ 13/2
Metz Win 7/4
Nancy Double Chance 6/10
Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets